Grand Ideas For West Ealing Woman

How technology is helping communities

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Gill Adams

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How do people find each other locally? How would it be if the person we needed (whether gardener, taxi-driver, babysitter, dog-walker, new friend, employer or employee, even) was just round the corner but we didn't know they were?

How can technology help local people find each other?

Long-time Ealing resident, Gill Adams, has recently set up a new website aimed at Grandparents ( and writes for us here about how new technology can be a very useful community tool.


I've lived in Ealing since 1981 and found mrself attending to the problem of getting to know the community, first as a young lone parent and homeworker. My first 'go' was setting up a local email group which turned eventually into Churchfield Community Association in Acton, which is now 10 years old. It started with about 10 people and is now a fully-fledged, constituted local residents' organisation with a thriving membership, that does wonders for the local community. It certainly doesn't stop at email now - it's all about real people meeting each other locally and being a force for good in the community - but that's how it started.

On moving to West Ealing in 2005 (a whole 15minute bus ride away from Acton) I felt a bit lost after 24years in Acton. Plus there was the issue of the tram which seemed destined to throw traffic right outside her new front door. So, with a group of new neighbours, we formed
first a small email group, and this eventually become the 300-strong and growing West Ealing Neighbours ( ) which soon stopped worrying about the tram. Now WEN concentrate on how they can, as a group, contribute to the quality of life in West
Ealing with input on weighty issues like the Green Man Lane regeneration work, and the much-acclaimed Abundance Project (all about local fruit!) and the Book Club at the Drayton Arms, and the free book-swap at West Ealing station.

Five years on, West Ealing Neighbours is a hugely influential group and website that concentrates on an often-overlooked, but densely populated and vibrant area of Ealing, with some remarkable local independent shops (we have two - yes two - fresh fish shops in West
Ealing, now, not to mention a host of ethnic food shops with colourful front stalls and also the weekly farmers' market). West Ealing Neighbours has revealed a community that is passionate to see the area grow and become more neighbourly and supportive. Regular meetings are
well attended.

What next? Well, I'm not a grandparent (yet) but having reached the grandparenting age, I now play a part in a bigger national venture, as the editor of a new website called - which is all about the nation's great army of millions of grandparents who are so crucial
to family life.

In many ways, the grandparent generation (whether they are actual grandparents or not) *are* the community-makers. They're the ones with the time and the motivation - as the years advance so the desire and need to stay in your community, and find your resources
within your local town or village, become clear. So, ( was born. It isn't (yet) localised, but there's lots of good stuff there that local people will find helpful - from heavy-duty legal and advisory articles (backed up by a terrific service in terms of a helpline which links to a group of experts supplied by the Grandparents' Association) for those grandparents at the hard-edge of family life (looking after grandchildren full-time, for example, or facing a lack of contact with grandchildren due to family break-up), to competitions, ideas for things to do, family recipes, gardening, and more.

There's also a great online 'community' of people that you can join to swap ideas and give support and just generally hang out and pass the time.

The message? Loads of local community groups and leisure groups co-ordinate themselves using new technology - it's not rocket science and it can be very low input in terms of energy. But you don't have to set up a website, an email group, or even belong to a residents' association, online or offline, in order to 'play your part' in community. It's not always possible to be on the spot if you're busy working. But with the wonder of modern technology, just taking 5
minutes out of your working day to 'show up' in forums such as those on Ealing Today and West Ealing neighbours, have your say, contributing your thoughts and experience, helps build up a sense of neighbourhood. And, who knows, for you, and for others, these small actions could result in one, two or more people meeting together, discussing an issue, building their community - getting to know each other in 'real space' and contributing positively to each others' lives.

Gill Adams

June 7, 2010